Tuesday, August 07, 2018


Part Four | 1957-1966

'..Panmure House was opened on 6th October 1957 by The Princess Royal accompanied by the Duke of Hamilton, the Club's Honorary President, and less than a year later, on 1st July 1958, the Club was again greatly honoured by the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh who stayed some time in the Club, presented personally the first winners of his Award with their badges, and unveiled the War Memorial and sent a message later to say how impressed he had been "by the happy atmosphere of the Club and the well-being and liveliness of the boys"...'

Ronald Selby Wright 'Another Home' [AH]

And it came to pass that Ronald Selby Wright's committed associations with Church-Religion; Royalty, Clubs and Schools continued through the late-1950s and the early-1960s. Boys, God and Royalty seem, always, to have been his three unremitting preoccupations.

In 1959, he was able to buy a new Organ for the Church:

'At the "opening" of the organ by Mr Michael Lester-Cribb the choir and orchestra of Fettes College also attended.' [AH] 

In the following year, RSW gave up his Chaplaincy at Fettes College; but, forged a stronger bond with another Edinburgh Public School:

'..Forbes Mackintosh, the retiring Head Master of Loretto, whom I had known for many years, asked me if I would come to Loretto and take the Church of Scotland Confirmation Classes there... I gladly agreed...' [AH]

1961 was the year that Tony Blair started at Chorister School, having previously attended Western Hill pre-preparatory school - both schools situated in Durham, North-East England where the Blair family lived. Like his older brother, William, he was a 'day boy', rather than being a member of '..the cathedral choir to which the school owed its origins.' [John Rentoul]

Ronald Selby Wright was appointed an 'Extra-Chaplain' to the Queen, from whom, in November, he also received a gift:

'The Sovereign's interest in the Church could be seen too in the Queen's gracious gift of a silver chalice to mark the occasion of my Silver Jubilee as Minister of Canongate...' [AH]

In October 1962, another royal visit was photographed:

'Princess Margaret And Lord Snowden Leave Canongate Kirk In The Royal Mile With Them Is Rev. Ronald Selby Wright. Princess Margaret And Lord Snowden Made An Impromptu Visit To Canongate Church.. To See Restoration Work Carried Out There Since Her Last Visit 13 Years Ago. The Princess Had Phoned The Rev. Ronald Selby Wright - Well Known As The Radio Padre - To Tell Him She Was Arriving. "They were impressed with all they saw and they were shown the communion cup which The Queen presented to the church last year, and the baptism silver, which is very old," said Mr.Wright.' [Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock]

He also met Prince Charles in 1962, having previously seen him five years earlier, at Balmoral:

'The second occasion [RSW saw Prince Charles] was when he came to see me at Gordonstoun, a rather homesick small boy in his first term there.' [AH]

He was promoted to the position of Chaplain to the Queen, in 1963, and had that same year, as he later reported it:

'..a most interesting and rewarding conversation one evening with Mr Harold Macmillan, shortly after he had resigned as Prime Minister, when I found myself alone with him in the Smoking Room of the Athenaeum...' [AH]

Not long thereafter, Prince Charles attained the distinction of another walk-on scene in the dubious drama of RSW's life:

'One of the most interesting dinners was when Prince Charles was staying with the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton and for the first time at Holyrood in 1964.' [AH]

And, in July 1965, Queen Elizabeth II returned to the Canongate Kirk. The purpose of this visit, according to RSW, was to '..unveil a plaque giving the history of the Church...' [AH]

Docile, obedient choir boys lined up. The Queen, small and smiling, alongside Ronald Selby Wright, large and lumbering, walked past the captured boys towards photographic documenters of the pretentious folly. [AH/Trinity Mirror]

May 6th 1966 was Tony Blair's thirteenth birthday. Specific dates when he finished and started attending the three schools he was educated at seem to be hard to locate; but... as he is said to have begun as an inmate at Fettes College, Edinburgh in the Summer of 1966, I guess that Tony Blair left Chorister School, Durham sometime between May and July of that year.

Daily Star, May 19th 2013

Andy Gardner


An ex-pupil at the Chorister School at Durham Cathedral claims he was systematically abused by a long-serving headmaster.

The man, now aged in his 60s, reported the alleged abuse to current headmistress Yvette Day and to Durham Police.

He claims Canon John Grove, who was head from 1957 to 1978, abused him during the late 1950s in his private quarters and in a school bathroom.

The man's lawyers are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Canon Grove died in 2001.

Mr. Blair, 60, attended the elite school, which is more than 600 years old, from 1961 to 1966...

The alleged victim told the Daily Star Sunday: "I was abused at the Durham Chorister School in the late 1950s/1960s.

"At seven years old, who do you turn to at an institution like the Durham Chorister School?

"It has taken me many years of anguish before I have been able to talk to anyone about the abuse.

"The abuse has left me emotionally scarred. The latest scandals have brought these terrible memories flooding back....           

Child Abuse Lawyer Liz Dux comments on the Daily Star article

May 20th 2013

The Daily Star  featured an article.. which told the story of one of our clients. Our client, who is now aged 60, was abused by a long-serving headmaster at The Chorister School in Durham.

Like many other victims of abuse, our client felt unable to report the abuse as a child as he felt he would not be believed. The recent publicity surrounding Jimmy Savile has allowed many victims, like our client, to finally come forward and speak out....

Daily Star, September 15th 2013

Andy Gardner

Pervert teacher comforted Tony Blair over poorly dad

Mr Blair prayed with Canon John Grove hours after his dad Leo collapsed following a stroke.

The former PM, now 60, joined Canon Grove during a vigil at The Chorister School at Durham Cathedral.

The pair offered prayers for Leo, then 40, who was not expected to survive, although he did in fact recover.

The revelation, in a respected biography, shows the key role played by Canon Grove.

He has since been accused by 20 former pupils of sexually abusing them. Canon Grove was headmaster from 1957 to 1978 and died in 2001...

...(Anthony) Seldon concluded: "Blair later said he looked back at the school with 'affection and gratitude' for the 'comfort, help and belief it gave him'."

Last week we told how another former Chorister pupil, a man in his late 40s, claimed the headmaster leered at boys as they showered and chose favourites to join him in his bathroom.

The 20 alleged victims who have gone to the police all accuse Canon Grove of sexual abuse. Liz Dux, head of the abuse unit at Slater and Gordon, has urged witnesses to come forward.

The lawyer, who is representing six alleged victims, added: "We need to know what people knew or saw."

Durham Police said they had been contacted by a number of people who are not victims but are helping with enquiries. A spokesman for Mr Blair did not return our requests for a comment.


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